Critics’ Picks

Audrey Wollen, Objects or Themselves, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes 2 seconds.

Audrey Wollen, Objects or Themselves, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes 2 seconds.


“Fiona Connor, Sydney de Jong, Audrey Wollen”

4/111 Macleay Street Potts Point
October 29–December 10, 2016

Three artists whose work seems both conceptually and materially dissimilar and five press releases with different interpretations can be found here, though the title of Fiona Connor’s All the Doors in the Walls, 2016, is to be taken literally. Each door in the gallery was stripped of its function; they no longer serve as mediators or passages from one place to another but as static objects of art, disposed toward admiration for their simplicity.

Two women, two beds, and two scars intermingle in Audrey Wollen’s Objects or Themselves, 2015, a twenty-minute video with a voice-over monologue by the artist and a background of a single image, Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, 1647–51. A paradigm of female beauty, Rokeby Venus depicts a woman lying on her bed, looking at her reflection in a mirror––but she actually is looking at us, the viewers, admiring her. In 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson slashed the canvas multiple times in London’s National Gallery in protest of both the arrest of the British suffrage movement’s founder, Emmeline Pankhurst, and the fetishization of the female body. The video’s narration mixes this historical incident with Wollen’s own account of coping with cancer as a teenager, involving a surgery for removing a tumor and the degrading of her body as object during subsequent medical treatment.

On a more playful note, Sydney de Jong’s stripped and multicolored cups and plates (all 2016) are not passive and untouchable artworks. Used on a daily basis by the gallery’s staff, these homewares move from one room to another, oscillating between clean and dirty along the way. The work of these three very different artists becomes connected via mutual transitions from public to private, questioning the modes of presentation that condition us to experience something as visually pleasing.